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Petrides Receives $1.2 Million Grant

Assistant Professor of Education Lisa Petrides recently received a grant for $1.2 million to assist the Foothill DeAnza Community Collge District (FHDA), located near San Jose, California in the heart of Silicon Valley, in the redesign of institutional research. The purpose of the grant is to design an information system that allows FHDA to use educational research to make informed decisions and set policy for student success.

The goal of the grant is to design knowledge-based information systems that are accessible from desktop computers. Petrides is using an action research model where the system is being designed and implemented, while at the organizational processes involved are being studied.

Since the FHDA is committed to lessening the performance gap between minority and non-minority students, learning how to accommodate students' learning styles, and developing a way to evaluate successful strategies for non-traditional college students, the new systems will track information such as: who completes school, who transfers to a new school, and employment rates of graduates. With this information, the administrators at the college strive to create success for all students, particularly those students who are less likely to persist in college.

Petrides will help to develop not only the technical systems but also to manage how people use them to make better decisions about access and equity issues using the new information that they collect.

"Every part of this project is multi-stepped: each applied step has a research component to it. The ongoing research process will allow us to make changes as we go along," said Petrides. She noted that she does not want to implement a system without addressing how the people and the technology will interface, as well as determining how people will use the information to make decisions.

This project has the capability to link together the resources of students at the K-12 level with the Community College Level. Using this information could help students to think about higher education earlier on.

Petrides is working in partnership with the State of California's Partnership for Excellence initiative, Oracle who will provide the technology for the project, and an anonymous foundation.

The site was specifically chosen for two reasons; one is that it is in the middle of Silicon Valley. "It was chosen not just because of the access to technology, but because these residents live and breath cutting-edge technology," said Petrides. The other reason is that the California has one of the strongest community college systems in the country, so there is ample opportunity to replicate this project as a national model.

"It's about the people using the technology and the culture of information," commented Petrides. "This is new to higher education, but companies have been doing this for years," said Petrides. "The fields of business and higher education can benefit from understanding each other's educational and business management needs."

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